Personally, I believe that Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the greatest gifts to American spirituality. He spoke passionately, lived boldly, challenged others to overcome their current circumstances and to experience themselves and others in a greater and loving way. His words sounded throughout our country like sweet notes of a deep and hidden truth. He walked fully and honestly, paving the way for others to do the same. He held the light in the midst of great darkness. He dreamed of a possibility that we are beginning to see blossom into a reality. Through the actions of one man, an entire country has changed, and the inauguration of Barak Obama as the next president of the United States is living proof that this is so.
So today, in honor of a great teacher, reflect on the following nine quotes from Dr. King, allowing his great wisdom to resonate in your own life to experience more fullness, richness, and juiciness in the year to come!
1. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Positive situations can only arise from optimism. Peace will never be established through war. And inner peace will never be created through negative self-talk.
Many of us are kind to others, but internally we are cruel dictators. Practice speaking to yourself softly this week, as you would to a sweet, innocent child. Be compassionate and understanding. Be encouraging, excited, and joyful about everything you dream of. Only through a loving approach can the true enjoyment and richness of life be embraced.
2. “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole ladder.”
Action is the missing step on the path of so many people. Most of us know what we should do, but we do not live in line with those goals. Embracing integrity and moving forward energetically by taking action, any action, is vital. Without movement, there is stagnation. Nothing can change being still.
So take a jump. Make a decision about something small this week that you’ve been putting off. Once you take those first courageous steps, life has a beautiful way of lighting the path ahead. With each step forward, the path will unfold and your journey will unfold.
3. “The means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.”
Too often we go astray in this country and hold only the end results of our efforts in high regard. But very often I meet clients who are apparently very successful and financially abundant … but spiritually bankrupt. Many people are so focused on the prize that they will do anything to get there, forgetting to stop along the way to play, reflect, thank, and smell the roses.
If we lived in a world where the only thing that really mattered was your intention, your conscience, your goodness, or your faith, how would it compare? What grade would you give him in the school of life?
The same principle applies in feng shui. It is not so important that your home looks beautiful, but how it came to be. May you have reverence when cleaning. May you have joy when decorating. That you smile while you rearrange. Instead, focus on how you are BEING, rather than everything you are DOING … and you will be doing it very well!
4. “The important thing is the quality, not the longevity, of one’s life.”
We tend to make decisions about our lives in terms of physical well-being over spiritual well-being. We want to live a long life and we have doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies to support those goals. But what if we were so tenacious with our own joy and laughter? What if we fight for meaning and love? What if we did anything to feel passion, pleasure and joy every day?
The desire for longevity is based on fear. The other is based on love. How can you start living a long and LOVING life? Bringing even the slightest glimmer of radiance into your day will be far more beneficial to your health and longevity than a visit to the doctor …
5. “An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow limits of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all mankind.”
When clients come to me frustrated or depressed, it is usually because they have shifted their perspective inward, wallowing in the details of their own lives. I’ve been there many times myself, as the human brain has a cunning way of putting each of us at the center of our little Universe. And while that seems like a great thing, it can also wreak havoc.
When we shift our focus towards others, we not only get the experience of helping a human being, but we also realize that we are not alone, others share the same (or often worse, struggles, and that the things we we are obsessed may not be that important after all.
This outward focus can also bring a deep sense of satisfaction. When we live only for ourselves, a void develops. By holding on to what we know to be true and shining our lights for others to see, we not only enrich our own lives, but we also make a difference in the world, and this type of experience always reaps rewards far greater than what is known. performed solely for our own gain. When you learn to turn on someone else’s flashlight, you are also lighting your way.
6. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
We tend to see ourselves as individuals, separate from the whole. We worry about our own needs, our own injustices, our own struggles, and our own desires. But if you look around you, we are all completely interdependent. Hundreds of people have likely touched every bite of food, item of clothing, or car you drive. Unless we live off the grid, every move we make is linked to many other people.
The same interconnectedness is found at the interpersonal level. Every time you meet another, you are making an impact, be it positive or negative. Every smile, grimace, compliment or hug spreads to your home, to your community … and, ultimately, to the planet. Only when we begin to see ourselves united, as cells of a greater being, like ourselves, will we experience peace all over the planet. Let it start with you.
7. “We must concentrate not only on the negative expulsion of war, but on the positive affirmation of peace.”
Dr. King expresses here a very important principle in the manifestation of any dream. Whatever we focus on, it gets bigger, and unfortunately we have a media outlet that fixes on scandal, crime, violence, and poverty. Take a look at your own life, your own struggles … Have the things that concern you most happened? Are the challenges you face the ones you reflected on?
Take a look at your triumphs too. Were they things you talked about, dreamed of, or wrote about?
Take a look at your wish list this week. How can you keep your eyes on THAT prize and less on your worries? Where can you live “as if” your dreams have already come true, instead of complaining about your dislikes? Where can you find room to improve and take loving steps to delight in all that is good?
8. “Rarely do we find men who voluntarily engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal search for easy answers and half-solutions. Nothing hurts some people more than having to think.”
So … Are you a follower or a leader? Do you take what everyone tells you to be true … your parents, the newspapers, the priests and the politicians? Have you taken the time to find out what you think? Have you put your hand on your own belly and sat in that silence, listening to the quiet inner wisdom? Did someone tell you once that you weren’t pretty enough? Smart enough? Creative enough? Motivated enough? High enough to have what you really want?
If so, where can you begin to regain your power and find your own voice and set your own path? Where can your spirit begin to whisper in your ear? Where can you find your own beautiful answers?
9. “I have a dream that my four young children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged on the color of their skin, but on the content of their character.”
In a world filled with flashy cars, high-profile celebrities, plastic surgery, and get-rich-quick schemes, it’s easy to lose sight of the deepest aspects of the human spirit. When we judge ourselves or others by their appearance, status, age, ability, or wealth, we lose sight of the truly beautiful parts of each of our souls. Every person on this planet has a story, they have hopes, they have fears and they have a heart if we open our eyes to see it.
If you are only walking on the surface of life, I challenge you to go deeper. Take time out of your busy schedule to make eye contact, smile, or offer a helping hand to your neighbor. Stop to ask your children what their lives are like, what they are afraid of, and what they long for. Ask your partner what they want most from you, and ask your neighbors how you can help.
Living only on the surface makes life very fragile. So dig deep, dig deep … and dig a little deeper. There you will find the gold …